Behind the Scenes: From Film Producer to Tech Consultant

by Isabel Lilles October 2, 2018 | 6 min read

“The PagerDuty value ‘Community’ resonates with me. PagerDuty puts their people first. I’m a remote employee, so when I interact with coworkers, it’s mostly through a screen. But every single time I do come into the office, everyone welcomes me as if I’ve always been there… It’s really nice to know that as a company, we actively make sure that people feel that they have a place here.”

–  Lisa Yang, Expert Services Consultant, Digital Insights Team, PagerDuty

What better way to welcome in the fall season than with another employee spotlight? This time, we wanted to show some love for our remote employees, so we had a chat with Lisa Yang, who works out of her home office in Brooklyn and is famous for her ability to lift more than she weighs. In fact, she’s won two weightlifting competitions and placed third in another. But she’s got more than just weightlifting under her belt—she’s also infamous for her jokes. Lisa joined the company a little over a year ago and is an Expert Services Consultant on the Digital Insights team, who work with customers to help them maximize their PagerDuty investment and improve responders’ on-call health.

Approaching Tech From a Different Angle

In contrast to her team members who studied engineering or computer science before working at PagerDuty, Lisa took up Film and Gender Studies in college. “I love visual storytelling,” she shared. “At the time, I wanted to make media that addressed gender dynamics and explore why we are terrible at representing men and women equally in media.”

However, once she moved to New York to pursue a career in film, she realized it wasn’t the job she wanted to do. “About two days after moving to New York, I realized I don’t have the personality for film. It’s a lot of networking, putting yourself out there, talking yourself up, and I’m really shy when it comes to things like that.”

Although the networking aspect of the film industry didn’t appeal to Lisa, she was drawn to the technical elements of it, including working with digital cameras and playing with the editing software. “I initially worked at a webcasting company, which was a good balance of my media background and my curiosity surrounding tech. I was always hanging out with the developers and the QA team, and that’s how I realized that tech was the field I wanted to get into.”

Sassy to SaaS-y

Though the film and tech industries may seem like polar opposites at first glance, Lisa found that her experience as a producer helped her hone the technical skills needed to be successful in her current role. “In film production, it was about how to get all the resources together, and how to schedule activities so that things are delivered and pushed out at the right times,” she explained. “So a film producer really is a glorified project manager. ” She also found that what she originally thought was an obstacle was actually a strength. “I thought that it would be challenging to have a non-tech background at PagerDuty, especially since the folks around me studied computer science and engineering. But I learned that tech is one of those industries where you can also do really well by learning and doing your own thing.”

But it hasn’t been an easy path—in landing any role, it can be challenging to prove you can play the part. When trying to find her career path, Lisa made sure to stay hungry and driven, which resulted in opportunities finding her. “Just because you have all the skills and look good on paper doesn’t mean that you’ll get the job,” she shared. “Before I landed my previous job, I didn’t have any project management experience. But my old boss took a shot with me and gave me the opportunity to learn. Because of that chance, I got to work with Shawn Motley—who was a DevOps engineer at my last job and is currently also on our Digital Insights team—who saw my potential and told me that I should be doing bigger things, such as working at PagerDuty.”

Within the Digital Insights team, Lisa is an Expert Services Consultant, which means she specifically helps PagerDuty customers set up for success and maximize their PagerDuty investment. Much like how she was previously empowering developers, now she’s empowering consultants and customers to do their jobs. “A lot of what I did in the past year was project management,” Lisa explained. “I established processes so that the consultants could do their jobs well, from conducting a discovery call all the way to closing out the actual engagement. I view my role as helping other people do their jobs better. And that’s what we do as a company, and as a team for our customers as well.

“I feel very lucky in my role. Yes, I have a set of tasks that I need to complete, but I also have the flexibility of defining my own goals and working on the things that I want to work on. Everyone on my team has that continuous improvement mindset, so everyone is always open to and excited for my new ideas.”

Heavy Lifting Required

Since shifting careers from film to tech, Lisa has also picked up a new hobby. For three years, Lisa has been Olympic weightlifting, which is a particular style of weightlifting that consists of two movements: 1) the Snatch and 2) the Clean and Jerk. Like her move to New York and her move into the tech industry, Lisa’s curiosity led to opportunity, which in turn led her to find a new hobby that pushes her beyond her comfort zones. “It’s definitely more mental than physical,” Lisa shared. “It translates into patience. You can’t rush weightlifting—it’s one of those things where you have to be very methodical and technical in your movements, and I’ve applied this to my life as well. There’s nothing in life that you can rush. It has to be a slow, continuous grind. That’s how you make good coffee.”

Though she has left her film production days far behind her, she still thoroughly enjoys movies. “The Oscars is my Super Bowl! I don’t know a single quarterback from any of the NFL teams, but I can name all the nominees for almost every Academy category.” Her favorite film of all time? “OMG, IT’S IMPOSSIBLE—THAT’S LIKE ASKING ME TO PICK A FAVORITE CHILD. But fine. Recently, I’ve really enjoyed Birdman from 2014, and La La Land Moonlight was a really fresh look at an undertold story. If I were still in film, these would be the sort of stories I’d be telling. If I had to pick a movie to watch for the rest of my living days, I’d watch Airplane! With my wife, so she can groan at bad jokes that aren’t mine.”

Interested in being a part of our incredible team? Check out our current open roles—we’d love to have you!